Flaherty raises some specific actions he could take to cool Canadian housing

For the first time since he initially acknowledged concern over a potential bubble in Canadian housing markets, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has openly indicated in an interview for CTV’s Question Period that higher down payments and shorter amortization periods are both on the table “if” there is further evidence of a bubble.

“If we see further evidence that there’s excessive demand in the housing market, or that there’s an indication that people are taking on obligations that they will not be able to handle in the future when interest rates do rise, then we’ll take some action,” Flaherty told the CTV.

Historically low interest rates intended to spur economic activity have pushed demand for homes higher resulting in sharp price increases in many Canadian markets. Near record level activity in our largest and priciest markets, Vancouver and Toronto has helped push the average selling price of a Canadian home to $368,665 (according to the Canadian Real Estate Association) , roughly twenty-percent higher than it was at this time last year.

“The likely action we would take is to increase the size of the down payment from five percent to a higher amount and probably, once again, reduce the amortization period. So, bring it down from a maximum of thirty-five years to something less than that,” Flaherty said.

I’m going to guess that December’s sale numbers will continue to fuel concern and bring us closer to seeing at least one of these changes implemented. Also uncertain is whether these changes would take effect immediately or if they would be effective at some future date.

Thanks to @JenCT for the heads up.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @norm_fisher.

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Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Canadian sub-prime lenders seek billion-dollar government bailout

An estimated 30,000 mortgages granted to Canadians with poor credit or insufficient incomes at the height of the Canadian housing boom will not be renewed when they mature over the next three years, according to a story on globeinvestor.com. The sub-prime lenders who granted the loans say that the investors who financed buyers at above market interest rates, and in many cases charging add-on fees that many might consider unconscionable, are no longer interested in these investments so they’re calling for full payment at the mortgage maturity date.

Knowing full well that calling these loans will lead to losses, these sub-prime lenders are hard at work using lobbyists to try to convince your government that you ought to be on the hook. Apparently, these are “healthy mortgages” given to individuals with “impeccable payment histories.”  The lenders will be “forced to foreclose on them” if the government doesn’t establish a one billion dollar fund to bail them out.

The effort is cleverly disguised as a bailout of unfortunate homeowners, but hopefully the Canadian people can read between the lines. Apparently, most of these mortgagors would not qualify for financing through a mainstream lender, or for mortgage insurance. As the Canadian Mortgage Trends blog points out, “Makes you wonder how healthy they are if the borrowers can’t re-qualify.”

Ivan Wahl, CEO for Xceed, a sub-prime lender who will call loans on 1,100 Canadians when they come due reportedly said in an interview with the Globe, “The government certainly should step up to the plate to provide some facilities for people who got caught in the crunch.”

It’s clear what a win this proposal would be for these investors who would land on their feet with every penny due after milking this risky scheme for all it was worth. As sad as it would be for those homeowners who took these loans and lived up to their agreement, the taxpayer should not be on the hook for these mortgages. The mortgages should be dealt with in the manner prescribed within the agreement. Some people will lose their homes. That’s a harsh reality of these types of risky ventures. For those that have sufficient equity, the months ahead should provide some strong selling opportunities. For those who are in for more than the home is worth, let’s send that loss back where it belongs, to those who cooked up the hair brained scheme in the first place.

Homeowners that have been notified that their mortgage will not be renewed should immediately explore their options. Can you re-finance with another lender? Is there enough equity in the home that you may be able to sell the property? See a lawyer who understands foreclosure to find out what rights you have under the law.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @norm_fisher.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Lake Placid will miss City of Saskatoon's payment deadline

Media Release

Release: Immediate
Date: Friday October 30, 2009
Contact: Mike Lobsinger, Chief Executive Officer Lake Placid Group of Companies

(Saskatoon, SK, Canada): Michael E. Lobsinger, Chief Executive Officer of the Lake Placid Group of Companies, announced today that Lake Placid is in a situation where delays have arisen around the deadline with the City of Saskatoon. For this, Lake Placid sincerely apologizes.

International finance is a complex and time consuming process. Lake Placid continues to work with its international financier to provide the $200 Million credit facility that is required for the development of Saskatoon River Landing.

All development and legislative approvals were not obtained until May 2009. Pursuant to the lender’s written financial commitment, the financing is still expected to arrive but will not do so in time to meet the October 30 deadline. The City of Saskatoon will be advised that although Lake Placid is not in a position to meet today’s deadline, it may be in that position very shortly.

It is particularly unfortunate that circumstances beyond the control of Lake Placid have resulted in missing this important deadline. Lake Placid has spent two years and over $7 Million planning this premier development which includes payment to the City of Saskatoon of over $700,000. Lake Placid has received significant interest from the local community for the purchase of residential properties, and from commercial tenants and hoteliers. They will be contacted directly.

Lake Placid would like to thank all of the supporters of this project including the City of Saskatoon administration, City Council and the Mayor’s office for their significant support in the progress made to date. In addition, Lake Placid would like to thank the Premier of Saskatchewan and the appropriate Ministers who worked diligently to pass the necessary amendments to the Condominium Properties Act and the Land Titles Act which allow for the development of mixed use projects in Saskatchewan. Without those legislative amendments which were passed in May 2009, this project could not have proceeded.

Lake Placid believes in the future of the great city of Saskatoon and has every intention of developing there in the near future. The company thanks everyone for their patience and understanding in this matter.

Saskatoon city council extends River Landing deadline for the last time

Saskatoon city council, in a special emergency meeting today, granted a final extension to Lake Placid Developments to cough up the $4.55 million for land the developer purchased at River Landing by October 30 2009. The extension is conditional upon the developer paying interest to the City of Saskatoon in the amount of $214,197 by August 31. An “embarrassed and humbled” Michael Lobsinger left a post-dated cheque to settle the bill along with his continued assurances that financing for the residential condo development and hotel, the proposed centrepiece of the River Landing development, is “imminent.”

In a story just published on the Star Phoenix website, Mayor Don Atchison is quoted as saying, “It’s all about certainty, and in the financial markets today it’s all about certainty, not guesswork. This is absolute certainty now. You heard me at the end there tell (Lake Placid CEO Michael) Lobsinger if he doesn’t come up with the $214,197.14, the deal is finished, or if it doesn’t come up with the money for the land, it’s terminated as well. There’s no more chances.”

Read the Star Phoenix story here.
CBC’s report is here.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Real estate geeks can follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

River Landing Village delayed again: Star Phoenix

According to a story in today’s Star Phoenix, Lake Placid Developments is seeking a one-year extension on the current deadline to complete the excavation of the building site for its proposed $200 million River Landing development.

In a letter to the city, the developer requested an extension to June 30, 2010. City manager, Murray Totland will recommend to city council on Monday that the extension be granted.

Read the Star Phoenix story here.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @Norm_Fisher.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate